Buzzzzz off

DR. DAVEI take my Aunt Bertha with me to a lot of functions, specifically outdoor functions.

“Wow she must be cool!”

Well no, not really. She’s 5’3” tall and 5’4” across. She sweats like an artesian well and her dentures have a life of their own.

But mosquitoes love her and always select her over me. So I dress her up in a dark muumuu and take her with me to BBQ’s, bonfires and when I go hunting at night, I get her to hold the “flashlight” for me. She is my own personal citronella coil. For those of you who think this is mercenary of me, buzzzzz off. Keep in mind she gets free burgers and plenty of exercise slapping at her neck and ankles. 

Why are some people mosquito magnets while others, like myself, are so completely repulsive?

Bertha is among the 20 percent of people who are high attractor types, not to be confused with highly attractive types. Noting that Bertha is rather Rubenesque and tends to give off a smell not unlike that of a hockey bag in a Phoenix summer, mosquitoes, who typically will hone in on dark, odiferous objects, salivate when she is in the area. 

The main smell that attracts these flying syringes is CO2, better known as what my sons like to power their BB guns with, prior to firing them indiscriminately in the direction of the neighbor’s greenhouse. Those with higher metabolic rates produce more carbon dioxide, as do larger people and pregnant women. In addition, other smells, emanating from: estrogen, exercise-induced lactic acid and even acetone from your breath, mark you as a good landing spot. Your body temperature or warmth can make it worse. Mosquitoes may flock to pregnant women because of their extra body heat.

Here are a few other fascinating facts for dinnertime discussion tonight, should that discussion tend in the direction of mosquitoes, IRS or other blood sucking pests. 

-Some mosquito species are leg and ankle biters; they cue into the stinky smell of bacteria on your feet.

-Other species prefer the head, neck and arms perhaps because of the warmth and closeness to carbon dioxide released by your mouth. 

-Mosquitoes are more attracted to women than to men, particularly ovulating women.

-Given the choice, mosquitoes would usually rather bite a blonde. Absolutely true! In fact, my blonde friend, aware of this, bought a large scarf for a recent bonfire. (She returned it later saying that it was too tight.)

-Mosquitoes like to aim for moving targets. The Coyotes are bite-free. 

-Biting increases 500 times during a full moon so ... reduce your full moons under a full moon. 

-When female mosquitoes drink blood, they leave a small puddle of urine on their victim's skin. Adds a little insult to injury.

-Only females make that annoying high pitched sound. Mosquitoes too.

-The more times you get bitten by a particular species of mosquito, the less you’ll react to that species over time. Great? There's more than 3,000 species worldwide.

-Garlic mosquito repellant is fairly effective. Also significantly reduces vampire attacks. 

-Mosquito zappers may be popular, but they very rarely capture mosquitoes.

Mosquito traps that are most successful are those which emanate the same odors, CO2, octenol, heat as Bertha. Personally I just use Bertha herself, adding “You would look absolutely incredible as a blonde. Trust me, I’m a doctor.”

-Even though they seem to move quickly, the average mosquito can only fly up to 1.5 miles per hour. The one exception is the one, obviously into the Red Bull, that spent the entire night in my tent last week at approximately 1500 mph.

-Most mosquito species can only fly about 300 feet before they need to rest. They leave you, fly 150 feet, turn around and 150 feet later, stop for a rest. 

-A mosquito flaps its wings between 400 and 700 times per second. Ralph Swanson, the man who counted these flaps will attest to this if you talk to him up at the sanitarium. I stop in and see him when I go to pick up Bertha. 


Family mealtime helps kids thrive

MADISON, Wisconsin – Sitting down to supper with your children on a regular basis is a simple strategy for building a strong family.

Family mealtime helps children develop into productive students and adults according to a senior clinical psychologist at American Family Children’s Hospital.

“It’s well documented that children in families that eat dinner together develop social skills, strengthen family bonds, do better in school, and engage in less risky behaviors such as drug and alcohol abuse,” says Dr. Stephanie Farrell.  “Scheduling regular family dinners is one tactic to assure we take the time to slow down from the hustle and bustle of our lives and be present with our children.”

“Family mealtimes provide children with stability and a safe environment in a world that is far too often fraught with confusion and pain.”

But with kids trying to stay faithful to a schedule involving ballet lessons, soccer practice, and study time for tomorrow’s big test, how can regular family dinners be possible?

“Start out realistically, even if it means just scheduling one shared meal,” says Farrell. “Keep it simple.  The focus is on being together, not a gourmet meal.”

Farrell encourages parents to have children help prepare the meal to give them a sense of responsibility, pride and accomplishment, while at the same time, enhancing their self-esteem. 

“Any help in the kitchen should be praised, so everyone’s efforts are acknowledged and will likely be repeated in the future,” she says.  “Additionally, when children are involved in the planning and preparation of healthy and nutritious food choices, they are more likely to eat the food, a bonus given the alarming rise in childhood obesity.”

Farrell says when the meal is served, conversation among family members should be the focus and technology should be banned.

“No television, no answering the phone, and no texting,” she says.  “This will allow you to actively listen to your children and connect with them.  Also, resist the temptation to jump up from the table when you are done eating to begin doing the dishes.  No outside boundaries should serve as a distraction.”

Farrell adds that family mealtimes should be enjoyable, fun and relaxing and unpleasant topics or criticisms should be avoided.

“It is imperative to take time to laugh,” she says.  “Share a joke or an amusing story from the day.  This might help children lower their guard that they may have had to keep up throughout the day.”

Overall, Farrell says parents who plan family mealtimes are showing just how much their children mean to them.

“I cannot think of a more vital message to give our children,” she says. “‘You are the most important part of my life, and I love you unconditionally. We are all busy, but I will always take time to be here for you.’”